What If I Was in the Presence of Greatness?

Have you ever played the game, “If you could go back in time and have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be?”  The hardest part of the game for me is selecting the person from whom I could gain the most from in that short period of time.  Interestingly, even in a game such as this, I’m concerned about time.  Probably because our time here on earth feels so limited, even though we know the concept of time is infinite and so are we.  Still I find myself throwing away my valuable now moments and concerning myself with past and future and even feeling like, “Well nothing important is going on around me, I wonder when this mundane moment will end and something really potent will happen?”

But then I remember I will be one of the people in history for those to come in the future.

Will I be one of the great ones remembered; am I around greatness right now?  In all the movies, books and stories about people whom somehow overcame the odds through perilous circumstances, there are the obstacles and people who were standing in the way of their greatness.

Eeeeeh-Gads! My worst nightmare: “What if I were standing in the way of somebody’s greatness?”  As an interventionist I’d like to think I’m one of the people who helps others get past the obstacle’s standing in their way.  But working with addiction is tricky and sometimes even your best effort has the door slamming in your face and feeling like the boogey man.

Along with my intervention services, I’ve worked with teenagers who have been kicked out of school for all kinds of dastardly deeds–alcohol and drug abuse, gang activity, misdemeanors, possession of weapons and so on.  I’ve seen massive anger, destruction and greed from all kinds of adolescents and I’d be lying to say that I’m not challenged at times with some of them.  Being that I pride myself on overcoming such poor human traits as judging, punishing, threatening, controlling, criticizing, blaming and nagging towards others, I still look to outside help for balance when dealing with such tough cookies.  Interestingly, help comes to me in many unique messages and fascinating ways; even some great people from history show up for me subliminally.  I find if I get still long enough and ask the universe for assistance, my day is most certain to contain some rather captivating moments.

One day during a workshop/lecture I was attending, the speaker asked the audience if we had at least one person who cared about us unconditionally. She proceeded to ask if we had two, then three, four and up to five people who cared about us.  Many hands were raised as she went on to explain that research showed if you had five people who cared about you unconditionally you were considered a very lucky person.  Afterwards I thought to ask that question to some of the teenagers I worked with.  When they said yes to five, I relayed to them the how lucky they were study.  But when I had others who couldn’t come up with even one, I stopped dead in my tracks as my awareness opened to the other side of the study, which was for those who were not among the lucky.  With a lump in my throat and ache in my solar plexus I wouldn’t relay the study results but I’d try and look into their eyes.  The only message I had to convey was, “You have one, you’ve got me.”  Interestingly, these were the moments that reminded me how very lucky I was, and where the most important work would begin with them.

Then there’s the time when no one at our site could get a sixteen-year-old boy to talk.  I asked him off to the side if he could help me with some research I was doing.  He looked at me and said, “If you knew what you waz doin’ you wouldn’t be doin’ research.”  BANG! What do you do with that?  He saw right through my disguise.  Then I recalled that it sounded like something I’d heard before.  I said, “Didn’t Einstein say that?”  He said, “Einstein?  Don’t knowz nobodyz named Einstein.  You stupid if you doin’ research.”  I said,  “Yeah, I guess, but you just quoted one of the smartest men on earth.”  He said, “Whaaaat?”  I said, “Yeah–tell me you didn’t know that?”  “Oz don’tz knowz nothin’.  That’z whyz I’mz heerz,” he said.  I sat there and stared at him in disbelief.  After a minute he said to me, “ So’s whoz thiz Einsteinz anywayz?” And we were off to the races with one whopper of a session.  All I can say is Einstein wherever you are THANK YOU.

Another time I showed “The Secret” and “What The Bleep Do We Know?”  As expected, some of it was over their heads, but many things did kick off some colorful discussions.  They sparked up to the dramatization regarding our thoughts and how it can dictate how a situation in our life goes.  A new meaning came to life when we discussed the concept of, “when you’re fighting life, life fights you.”  Keeping in mind that many of the young adults I work with are involved in gangs and gang activities, not to mention the need for substantially more positive pictures of how their life could be, we discussed a great deal on the level of manifestation.  First, I was amazed they actually understood how manifestation works.  And second, I would have given anything for a video camera to record the fun they were having with this new vocabulary word and applying it to their world.  Later on, two tough guys from opposing gangs were beginning to escalate in a combative manner when the one looked at the other and said, “Who invited you to my illusion?”  Everyone burst out laughing and victory was had by all as I witnessed a true understanding between the two that they were both choosing each other and the circumstance they were in.  Who would have thought Hollywood could’ve been such a good teacher?

This past summer I was moved and inspired by Randy Prausch, the writer of “The Last Lecture.”  His book having been written in the last year of his life after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer left his family and this world with scores of powerful messages.  I immediately sent for the video because I had to hear what his pearls of wisdom would say.  I have listened to it several times for his acumen on life and golden wit of humor.  I made note of many things but none so much as the divine advice to, “give people enough time and they will astound you.”  Dealing with the population I work with, I had to wrap this gem up in my mind’s memory bank for safe keeping.  Ever since I heard this phrase my experience with others especially in frustrating circumstances has transformed.  A particularly difficult teen I was working with this past year who could not read or work with numbers, was born into a family in which everyone belonged to a gang and, needless to say, had an attitude filled with venom.  I thought of what “The Last Lecture” said and decided all I had was time, so let’s see what happens.  Weeks went by and he was complaining about being bored.  Exasperatingly I said, “What would you like to do?”  He said, “Got anythin’ lectronic I can fix?”  I didn’t off hand, but the next day I brought in a clock I had that wouldn’t work.  He fixed it.  I was blown away.  We had a VCR at the site that didn’t work so I told him to take a crack at that and he fixed that too.   He soon became our on-site tech and his self-esteem shot through the roof.  I wondered, “Would Virginia Tech take someone who couldn’t read or work with numbers?”

One day I had a seventeen-year old boy come in with his mother. During the in-take they both sat up straight and were very attentive, agreeable and polite.  Something I don’t ever see.  I asked him if he had any goals.  He said, “I want to drive a forklift.”  I thought, “This is weird; I never had a kid actually say they had a goal before.”  The first day he worked meticulously the whole day through, I thought to myself—“pretty good act.”  The week went by and still the same behavior I thought—“hmmm, this is really strange.”  The next two weeks he kept up with the same impressive behavior.  Then one day I walked in, and he wasn’t there.  My supervisor told me, “He’s in jail and he won’t be back.  Sorry, Mackie, we missed out on this one.”  I ran to the phone and called his probation officer who by law couldn’t tell me anything.  I called his mother and she responded that he had tested dirty on a drug test so the judge put him in jail for sixteen days after which he’d be given a different placement.  I asked her, “Do you think your son has a problem with drugs?”  “OH NO! It’s not that, he’s very good and trying very hard…blah, blah, blah.” I interrupted her and said, “I’m not trying to make him wrong, if your son has a problem with drugs I’m an interventionist and one of the things I do is get people to the right kind of help.”  She stopped and burst out in desperation, “I’ve been in recovery for five months for crystal-meth and he’s trying to clean up too.  I know what he’s going through.”  I said, “Really! Congratulations!  That’s huge!  Did you know that since he’s still under eighteen and he has a parent in recovery that he qualifies for free help?” I ended up writing a letter to the judge and he spent the summer at drug camp in Malibu (pretty different from sitting in jail).  Six months later he stopped by clean and sober and was back in school.  He let me know he didn’t want to drive a forklift anymore.  He wanted to go to college.  You’re right again Randy Prauch—you give people enough time and they will astound you.

When it comes down to it, I feel I’ve learned more from these young troubled adults I’ve worked with than they have from me.  And being that I keep receiving such sage advice from the universe, I can’t help but think, “After all the great stories of famous people, the trials and tribulations they succeeded from…. maybe I too am in the presence of greatness.”

Whenever I catch a frog’s eye I am aware of this, but I do not find it depressing.
I stand quite still and try hard not to move or lift a hand since it would only frighten him.
And standing thus it finally comes to me
that this is the most enormous extension of vision of which life is capable:
the projection of itself into other lives.
This is the lonely, magnificent power of humanity.
It is, far more than any spatial adventure,
the supreme epitome of the reaching out.

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